Yeah, yeah the Raiders spent a boatload of money as the NFL’s free agency negotiation period began. They addressed needs in the secondary, receiving corps and defense. What’s next for the Raiders?
Oakland should continue prioritizing the offense. Yes, I know there is still a glaring need at defensive end. However, Jon Gruden is an offensive coach. He’s going to keep building that unit and probably save the defense for the draft. That makes sense considering the defense is absolutely stacked in this draft class.
The popular choice is Le’Veon Bell, especially since Oakland added his former teammate Antonio Brown. However, other choices are cheaper, younger and make more sense for the Silver and Black.
Here’s another back buried under the spotlight of Bell. Ajayi is coming off an injury and only played in four games last year but he was a big part of what helped the Eagles get to a Superbowl in 2017. Prior to that, Ajayi looked like an elite back with 1,272 rushing yards with the Dolphins in 2016. In college, he showed his abilities as a pass catcher with 50 receptions and over 500 receiving yards. Thus, the 25-year-old could bring a lot to the Raiders and it should come cheap.
Ajayi could easily start for the Raiders right away but at the very least he can split time with a younger back and provide the power and downhill punch Oakland needs. Think about Ajayi filling the role left by Marshawn Lynch if he doesn’t return.
Not to mention, Ajayi is from the UK where the Raiders are already beloved. Signing Ajayi for a bargain makes sense for the Raiders’ marketing too.
Here’s another former Alabama running back that the Raiders should consider. The 25-year-old hasn’t been the No. 1 RB some hoped he would become when he was drafted in the second round. However, he’s been solid when given opportunity.
The 25-year-old has never had a season with less than 30 catches so you know he brings receiving out of the backfield. His best year cam last year when he finished with 487 receiving yards, four touchdown catches, and 414 rushing yards. Two years before, he finished the year with 465 rushing yards and fifty catches.
Not to mention, he knows current Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olsen who held the same job with the Jaguars his rookie season. For Oakland, Yeldon is a big back who can catch the ball. He’s young and cheaper than others higher on the list.
Then, there’s Peyton Barber. Barber is another running back with good size to fit the Raiders. He also knows what it is like to rush behind a sub-par offensive line due to his last season in Tampa. Speaking of which, Barger finished last year with 871 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
He’s another 25-year-old who could compete for the Raiders carries and grow into a feature role. It remains to be seen what his market will be since he has only one breakout season. Lucky for him, it was this past season so someone might give him some serious cash to build on last year.
Other Guys: Jeremy Hill, Bilal Powell, Alfred Blue, Ty Montgomery, Spencer Ware and Alex Collins.
All these guys have proven themselves as starters in the league. Depending on what the Raiders are looking for, they can find value in any of these veterans. Of course, the market won’t be set for these guys until the rest of the group find homes.
Moreover, everyone is going to wait for Le’Veon to get his record contract. Teams will holdout hope they can get him and running backs will hold out hope that Bell’s contract will mean more money for all of them, the trickledown effect. Either way, the Raiders should not wait and should move on a running back ASAP.